I’m Sorta Okay At Destiny 2, And That’s Alright

There’s no better reminder of how “a step above average” you are at a video game than seeing the performance of a high-skill group of players who have practiced their coordination and communication. I used to get this through watching the professional Overwatch league, back in the days when I watched and played that game before I chose to uninstall all my Blizzard games for reasons of moral concern (which has only gotten worse over the years since). Now, I get it by watching my friend and his fellow members of what our (I kept writing “his/my friend’s clan” even though I’m a part of it because I’m still only dipping my toes back into Destiny 2, but I changed it all in editing because I’m trying to push myself to become a more active member of the group) clan calls Team 1 as they prepared for the latest raid and now practice for future guided raids.

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Destined To Always Return To Destiny

For the third time, I’ve decided to get back into Destiny 2. The first time was following a normal lull in play as I ran out of content to enjoy, hit the point of grinding for small increases, and couldn’t get a group of friends together for the end-game type content (a raid). I stopped playing when I hit that same point again, though this time we did manage to get enough people together to do the first raid before the next one properly came out. The second time, I got back into Destiny 2 with the release of some new content in an attempt to maintain connections after I moved away from my now ex-roommates and we tried to find ways to spend time together during the various peaks of the pandemic. I fell out again because I couldn’t even get a group together without a lot of schedule work to do the small-team weekly activities and I’m not one for playing these types of games by myself. I’d much rather do it with other people. Never once did I stop playing because I wasn’t enjoying the gameplay, the story, or any of the content. I always stopped because I just didn’t have people whose company I enjoyed to continue playing with.

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2022 Seems Like A Good Year For Video Games

As much shit as I give Baldur’s Gate 3 for being a mess that is overly reliant on community testing efforts to produce a playable game rather than hiring enough staff to test it themselves, the person they’ve hired to write their patch notes does a great job. They’re clear, humorous without being distracting, and convey a great deal of information. A wonderful example of good software update communication, if you ask me. Still, as much as I enjoyed reading the notes for the latest patch and I REALLY want to get into the game again, the idea of slogging through a whole new pile of bugs and whatever is going to turn into the next community bug report meme fills me with dread. That said, the latest patch seems far more geared towards stabalization and pushing the mechanics closer toward the desire end-goal the developer has communicated than previous patches. And they even released a new class as well!

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Nothing Wrong With Being A Casual

I very much dislike that point in an online game where it goes from being a fun chaotic mess where skill doesn’t much matter to being held to a strict tiered meta with only a few ways to win and “skill” means being able to properly apply said meta. It is a small peeve that doesn’t come up much, but it can be incredibly frustrating every time it comes up. Also, that fact that it comes up frequently enough for me to consider swearing off all online games says a lot about this as well.

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NaNoWriMo 2018 Day 27 (11/27)

I don’t know what it is about today, but I’m feeling downright capricious. Which is a side-effect of feeling really energetic. It could be all the coffee I drank, though that never really lifts my mood so much as makes me the energetic version of whatever mood I was before. It could be the return to using my therapy light every day for three days straight after leaving it at home when I visiting my family for the Holidays. It could also be the fact that I wrote just over three thousand three hundred thirty-three words in an hour and forty-five minutes last night. That felt pretty good, especially when I knocked out another thousand in the subsequent half-hour. All of this on a night when I felt incredibly run-down and exhausted from a busy, stressful day at work. I wasn’t sure I was going to get the three thousand words I needed to more-or-less stay on schedule to finish my National Novel Writing Month project on Friday, but I managed to completely knock it out of the park despite starting at nine at night as a result of chores and coping with my depression.

Yesterday’s tip about using the milestone method to trick yourself into staying focused and driven toward whatever is your writing goal made it possible. Without slowly working myself to the start of the next page, to the next thousand, to the next five hundred, to the next round number on my word total, I would not have been able to get as much done as quickly as I did. There may be a fair bit of editing that needs to happen since I didn’t do any as I wrote, but it shouldn’t be much unless I decide to change something much earlier. It’ll be fixing sentences, trimming out repetition, and adding in a few extra words here or there for clarity. Mostly simple stuff since I’m still proceeding along the path I laid out in my outline at the beginning of the month. I’ve had a few deviations, but they’ve all been minor course corrections and adjustments of what topics get introduced where. There’s a lot to go over in this story and I’m trying to make sure it all flows naturally.

I also took my own advice from yesterday. I started setting aside some time to reflect. I took half of an hour after I was ready for bed to relax and reflect on what is going on in my head. It was surprisingly productive and probably set the stage for today’s tired but still good mood. I didn’t come to any big conclusions and I’ve still got a lot to think about, but it took some of the pressure off. It made it easier to focus at work today and, with some of my mental knots untangled, it made it less difficult to get excited about and engaged with stuff. I mean, not that work is any more exciting and engaging than usual. I like my job, but I wouldn’t say that there’s anything going on that I’m particularly excited about. I like the stuff we’re doing and I think it’s cool, but there’s no sense of urgency or anticipation to bring it up to the “excited” level. No, today’s excitement is about the content coming to Destiny 2 that started today and will continue over the next few weeks.

I’m seriously in love with this game after all the changes they made to it for the first “live support” year. All of the story content has been stellar, there’s enough going on from week to week that I actually feel engaged, and all of the niggling little problems that persisted over the course of the release year have been addressed. There are still issues, of course, but they’re much more reasonable and I look forward to them being addressed as live support continues. Because of how much better the story is, I’ve been getting excited about the game’s lore and am now apparently spending all my breaks from writing on the Destinypedia, reading about everything I missed from the first game and delving even deeper into the events I’ve witnessed in this game. I’ve tried to listen to all the dialogue and read all the text from everything I’ve found in-game, but it’s really easy to miss something when you’re running through a mission with your friends. Not everyone wants to stop mid-mission to read the wall of text they just unlocked by interacting with the lump of ore you found hidden behind a storage container in a side room you didn’t need to run through.

It’s been really fun to find out just how self-aware the game is. There are references to the giant mess that was the initial story-line of the first game, emotes that tie into inside jokes that the community has loved, and even a bunch of in-game references to the fact that Guardians (the player-characters in the game) tend to break into dance in the weirdest places without any regard to what is going on around them or whether or not there’s even music. Stuff like this makes it clear that at least someone is paying attention to the community and what we care about. And the dumb stuff we do. As I looked back into the events during the live support years of the first game, I can start to understand why people were so excited to start playing Destiny 2 as soon as it came out rather than waiting for the release year to end. It was such a different game from the release year of Destiny 2 and it incorporates that same fun, exciting spirit I’m feeling as we’re rolling through the first year of live support for Destiny 2.

Anyway, this is late because I went to bed at a reasonable hour last night and was busy at work today, so I didn’t have enough breaks to get this done. There’ll be a lot of busy for the next few weeks as I try to get a buffer going for my blog again, attempt to prepare for a giant move at my day job, and try to play Destiny 2 for five or more hours every week. I’m prepared for that, I think, but that might just be my current optimism speaking. It’s kind of hard to tell for sure, to be honest, but I’d like to think that the culmination of all of my work this month will be a more energetic and engaged version of me. I’ve dreamed about being that person for years, ever since my depression took deeper root and sort of supplanted my identity, so I’d be really excited to see it happen. It might also just be the caffeine.

We’ve got four days of the month left (well, three and a bit since this is going up in the evening), so make sure you stay focused! Even if you’re almost finished, don’t let up! You never know what might come up and there’s never anything wrong with finishing early, so just wrap it up as soon as you can and don’t depend on the uncertain future. You never know what might happen. Good luck today!


Daily Prompt

Stories are about change and one of the major modern catalysts for change is new people from somewhere else showing up. It’s been a catalyst for change since Beowulf showed up to kick Grendel’s ass (Debately. He only really won because Grendel tried to run away rather than fight), but the change isn’t always good. Lately, there’s been a lot of fear and hate involved in the change we see when new people show up rather than support and polite interest in new cultures. How does your protagonist react to new people? Do they see new cultures as a chance for positive change, or negative? How do they feel about the way the rest of their society reacts? Write a scene where your protagonist is introduced to people who are different from them and show us how they react to the way their life changes as a result.


Sharing Inspiration

One of my favorite finds on YouTube, using the “next up” feature, was Rush Garcia. They are a musician and composer who creates music on commission or as inspired by their interests, all of which means they make a lot of music about video games. I love music about video games and these three specific songs in particular are my favorites. They’re part of most of my writing playlists and they’re the core of one of my instrumental anti-anxiety playlists since they feel, quite literally, like emotion turned into music. They all vary quite widely and I can always count on whatever new song Rush puts up to be a beautiful listening experience that makes me want to create my own stuff.


Helpful Tips

I know I’ve mentioned thinking about what comes next and I know we’re super close to the end of National Novel Writing Month, but don’t spend a lot of time thinking about what you’re going to do on December 1st. If you lose focus now, you might not finish as strongly as you’d like. It’s a really awful feeling to be racing the clock as midnight on the 30th approaches, trying to beat the countdown to the end as your despair and frustration only grow with each update of the clock. Focus on getting all of your writing done and let the future take care of itself for now. There’s nothing wrong with idly thinking about what comes next, just don’t spend much time or energy on it. Don’t make a plan unless it’s for a bottle of champagne or something like that to toast a successful month of writing. Do plan that stuff.

Destiny 2’s Future Looks Brighter Than Ever

When I finally managed to log onto the Destiny 2 servers on Tuesday, a few minutes after noon, it felt like I was playing a whole new game. Except worse because I knew I wasn’t playing a new game and had a whole pile of expectations about how things worked that wound up being wrong. There were some growing pains at first, and I’m certain there will continue to be more, but I’m optimistic the changes the “Live Team” made to Destiny 2 are going to result in a better gaming experience over the course of the next couple years. Even after only two days of play, both shortened by internet problems unrelated to the game, I can confidently say the game is miles better than it was before.

My only major gripe is how frustrating it is to try to track weekly progress now. Instead of having one place I can go to check out my progress on everything, I now have to go to the map location of each activity and hover over it to see my progress. This means that, in order to check my overall status, I have to do a few dozen clicks whereas I used to be able to check it by tapping or holding a few keys on my keyboard. Additionally, there wasn’t really a clear explanation of how the changes would roll out for the weeklies, so I was left searching for them until I hit both level 50 and the “soft cap” of my character’s power level (500). I’m sure the information is out there somewhere, but so much happened in the space of a week that it was almost impossible to process how the immediate changes affected my gameplay, let alone what the future changes would mean. You can even see it in the community as a lot of the once-reliable information resources are struggling to keep up with everything that’s rolled out and the vague promises that more will be coming as time passes. Even the patch notes are too dense to read through without missing stuff and I’m someone who literally studied how to parse texts in order to get at the meaning inside of them.

When it comes to actually experiencing the changes rather than trying to learn about them, things are much better. After the update, the gameplay feels so smooth that it’s like playing a different game. Shooting feels way better than it ever did before, as does bullet impact and ability strength. Reload speeds feel somewhat sluggish now, but I’m pretty sure it’s because everything else is so fast-paced now that the unchanged reload speeds feel extra slow. I feel like my character moves faster, that combat resolves faster, and that all of my abilities are available faster. In the first mission alone, I used my ultimate ability, my “Super” three times before the first cutscene interrupt the mission. It was amazing. I finally felt like the powerhouse the game’s lore and history says you should be. A one-man (or, in my case, robot) army capable of beating even the toughest foes into the dirt with enough cleverness and ammunition.

Probably the biggest change to the pacing of the game was the introduction of what feels like sharper contrasts around your character’s power level (or Light level). Before, I could easily muddle through encounters above my Light level so long as they weren’t that far above it. If the gap was bigger, about thirty or higher, I’d get stomped into the ground and the same wasn’t really true of when you’re that much stronger than your enemies. Now, even a ten-level difference is noticeable and that’s for both sides. Being stronger than my enemies lets me just soak up damage like nobodies’ business and laugh as my health drops into the red because nothing but a bunch of mini-bosses or a single-big boss could kill me before I killed them. Enough mooks could kill me, and they have the times I got overconfident, but it’s pretty easy to just mow them down on your way to the real fight.

The new story isn’t very long, but it sets up a few interesting questions and leaves enough of an open end that their promises of more to come might actually be in reference to lore and story content rather than just gradually shifting environmental stuff. It’s also pretty engaging, given that they revealed during the announcement of the expansion that they were killing off one of the favorite characters in the game. It’s hard not to get caught up in what’s going on, especially because the bad guys talk now and say things that make you actually think for a moment about what you’re doing and what a “Guardian” (the generic term for what your character is) is supposed to do in general, when confronted with a situation like this one. All that being said, it doesn’t really leave you with much question about what you’re doing by the time you get to the end of the missions and anyone who has spent any time thinking about mortality or taken a decent philosophy class in their life will be able to adequately answer the questions. It’s fun and engaging, but nothing particularly special.

What has wound up being the most fun part for me has been the sense of exploration and discovery I get as I re-learn how to play this game at the same time that everyone else does. I can google almost anything new I want and never actually get answers to my questions unless there’s a discussion on a message board with people also trying to figure it out. The efficiency of new weapons, the locations of enemies that give you good rewards, how to trigger the more powerful versions of the public events, where to go to find all of the vendors, and so much more. Everyone is still figuring things out and it feels great to be able to contribute to that.

That being said, here are some things I figured out, specifically for anyone playing Destiny 2:

  • Join a clan and have people on your fireteam. It makes life so much easier and certain bounties require it.
  • Do all the bounties you can. Glimmer is easy to get right now, so spend it freely (and they’re super cheap) and reap the rewards in consumables and tokens.
  • Try new weapons and probably stay away from any PvP experience right now because either I really suck, everyone else is amazing, or people have just figured out how to win by being super shitty and do nothing but play PvP so they can be shitty to people. Seriously, it sucks.
  • Keep an eye on your random perk rolls but only for Legendary and up gear. If you like the perks, just hold on to it since you can always strengthen that gun or armor later.
  • The Tangled Shore is super fun, so spend tons of time there.
  • Bows are silly but only really work well in the Tangled Shore. They feel a little underwhelming elsewhere.

I’ve got a lot more specific information, but that’s not super useful unless we’re chatting while you’re playing so I’m not going to post it here. If you play and are reading this, let me know if you’ve got any questions or found anything particularly fun you’d like to share! I’d love to hear about it.


Despite the Bumpy Road, I Haven’t Forsaken Destiny 2

Destiny 2, despite the hopeful and positive review I gave it in December, has had some major struggles during its first year. There have been numerous controversies and even damage control didn’t manage to do anything but limit the fallout of the problems. From the numerous bugs breaking the Player versus Player elements of the game that cropped up every time something big came out to the discovery that the game was specifically programmed to rarely drop ammo for the gun you’re using, the first year of the release was a series of ambitious ideas that ultimately fell flat. There were out of control power-balance issues that made it difficult to succeed in PvP unless you did very specific things people shared on the internet so literally everyone could do them. There were frustrating bugs preventing a lot of the more interesting unique armors and weapons from performing as they were supposed to. There were even a few instances were doing events the way you wanted to became impossible because getting kills with your character’s special power (their “Super”) didn’t count toward the goal of getting X kills with your character’s Super. I ran into that one and had to change how my character worked in order to complete the objective. Sure, it was an easy change to make, but it’s so incredibly frustrating to only realize that the game wasn’t counting my kills after getting what should have been half the kills I needed.

I’ve fallen through platforms, used a piece of armor that literally didn’t work the way the description said it would work, had to deal with ineffective grenades because enemies could just run away after they exploded and ignore the secondary damage effects, had a gun whose special effect wouldn’t trigger half the time despite its trigger literally being “is being continuously fired,” and gotten stuck in loading screens for more hours than I’d like to count. The game has crashed at random only to give me reasons that had nothing to do with why the game actually crashed and I’ve had horrible moments where clicking out of the game has caused it to fail to finish loading the activity I’m about to do.

Despite all that incredibly frustrating crap, I’ve continued to play the game. Either my roommate or myself has figured out a way around the bug we encountered and we kept playing. I got better at the game so I could more easily tell when server lag for the PvP matches was to blame for me missing my target and I even helped set up a raid that took forever because some of the mechanics for a particular portion of said raid are incredibly obtuse and stupid. I’ve stuck through it for an entire year, keeping at least one character near the maximum power level so I could stay relevant and it is finally about to pay off.

As is now tradition for a Destiny game, the first year of its release is an absolute train wreck. Once that year is over, the live team takes over and will take care of all development for the game until the next one comes out. In Destiny 1, the live team fixed all the problems, managed to quickly fix most of the problems they introduced, and actually gave the player community what they wanted. By the time Destiny 2 was imminent, Destiny 1 was actually a really fun and successful game. As is evidenced by the announcements we’ve gotten ahead of September 4th’s expansion and the patch notes from the groundwork update we all downloaded today, it is entirely clear that the live team actually took the lessons they learned to heart the first time. It is equally clear the core team did not. To be entirely fair, the core team tried to entirely bypass the issue by doing something new but it ultimately failed. To make matters worse, it often felt like no one had actually tested out the software before they sent it out to the players and the proposed solutions generally felt like someone was pretending to listen to your problems while planning to just do what they want in the end.

Now, the live team is swooping in to give the players what they want, fix the balance of the game, and literally give the protagonist of the voice, The Guardian, their voice back. Seriously, the core team didn’t let the protagonist speak at all, instead using the little magic/holy-powered robot orb that made you into the unkillable killing machine you are as the voice for the protagonist. It was rather frustrating to have the orb, your “ghost,” constantly talking at your character or cracking jokes with other people. In addition to a bunch of quality-of-life updates and fixes, they’re adding a new game mode, a huge new expansion, something they’re calling the biggest raid ever, and a whole host of new weapons, armor, and unique items in order to revitalize the game so that everyone isn’t running around with one of four guns in each of their three gun slots. Hell, now you don’t even need to worry about the gun slots as much because now it’s almost possible to have a gun of any type in any gun slot, with the exception of some of the most powerful ones, like swords and rocket launchers.

While it remains to be seen just how much this power shift breaks the game, I think it’s a far better way of fixing the game than the core team’s strategy of trying to pull back on the power. Just give everyone godly powers and then no one will complain because they’re just as stupidly powerful as everyone else is. To paraphrase the villain from The Incredibles (the first one, not the second one): “If everyone’s super OP, then no one will be.” It’s a good strategy for a game where you’re essentially supposed to play an immortal, god-killing terminator of all that would stand against you. Seriously, your character killed a god-equivalent creature in the first game and I’m pretty sure we killed one of its almost-god children in this one. There’s nothing wrong with being a little OP if everyone else is, too.

It’s really been a mixed bag, this first year of Destiny 2. All signs point toward things improving, but I think I’m going to remain cautiously skeptical for now. I don’t really want to get my hopes up after they were crushed when I moved from playing Destiny 1 on my friend’s PlayStation to playing Destiny 2 on the computer. As much as I’ve enjoyed the game, there’s always been this sense of missed potential hanging over it because of how good the first game was by the time they stopped updating it. Hopefully this new expansion will help it finally reach that potential.

Four Hours, Six People, And One Raid

It may have taken us twice the amount of time we were initially told it would take (though, to be fair, my roommate was very clear about leaving room for it to take longer), but we managed to clear the Leviathan Raid in Destiny 2. For those of you who do not know what this is, the Leviathan Raid is a sort of dungeon. Your team of one to six players (it is almost always six as there are parts that are nearly impossible to do without six players or the best two or three players in the world) has to make their way through a series of challenges to reach the final boss, all while earning special gear that gives you bonuses while doing the raid. Upon succeeding, you are given more gear, various extra rewards, and some small side missions to unlock even more gear. Basically, you’re raiding the lair of a Big Bad Evil Guy for loot and bragging rights. On the surface, it seems pretty simple and, at least to me, boring.

Thankfully, it is not nearly so boring in practice. In practice, you and your team receive an invitation to visit the palace of the most powerful member of an alien race, The Cabal. There, you are basically given a royal guard to the main chamber of the palace, whereupon the emperor tells you that he wishes to see your strength. Your team is challenged to unlock a series of doors, take on some challenges, and eventually make it to the emperor’s throne room in order to take him on in combat after proving yourselves worthy. Every week, when the game’s challenges reset, so does the raid, which means you can only complete it once a week but you have all week to complete the raid if you only get partway through before your group needs to stop. There isn’t a lot of plot to it, but then there isn’t much plot to the Destiny games in general. You show up, kill some stuff, some alien out to get your power gets angry about it, you kill them, and then it turns out a god of some kind was behind them the entire time so now you get to add “god killer” to your list of titles. The games include various powers and small RPG elements, but they’re mostly straight-forward shoot-em-up games with little real choice or plot beyond good versus evil.

The raids, though, were the first real puzzle-solving elements of the game. There are other puzzles you need to solve, things you need to find, during the rest of the game, but there was always a quest marker to guide you to where you needed to go or explain what you needed to do. There was no difficulty other than when you got caught without cover in a giant swarm of enemies. Even then, you usually just respawn a few seconds later a short distance away. In the emperor’s palace, though, there are no explanations. No quest markers. No hints aside from what is posted online by other players and the occasional little line of text off to the side of the screen. Even if you look up a guide video on YouTube, there’s still a huge difference between knowing what needs to be done and being able to do it. Even though one of the puzzles was incredibly easy to figure out, it still took our team a while to be able to pull it off.

Thankfully, the raid is just as forgiving as the rest of the game, when it comes to death. If the entire team is killed, you just start the particular room you’re in over from the beginning. Anything you’ve already completed stays done. If just one person is killed, the team has the chance to revive them, though each person only has the ability to revive someone one time. If you fail to revive your teammate in the specified amount of time, then the entire team is killed and you must start the room over again. This mechanic allowed us to restart rooms as soon as we realized we’d messed up, which saved us a lot of time. If we’d been forced to attempt to play out every attempt we’d screwed up, we probably wouldn’t have finished the raid that night. Hell, there was only one room in the raid where screwing up didn’t result in all of us instantly dying, so it was usually pretty clear when we missed something or someone had forgotten one of their assignments.

All six of us have known each other for a while, at least in passing. My roommate, the organizer, is the common thread that connects us all right now, so I was worried there would be communication issues because we weren’t used to each other’s voices, play styles, or communication styles. Despite that, we all got along really well. There were a few tense moments where frustration with our repeated failure or a repeated gripe resulted in a few disgruntled words, but that was about it. Even then, most of it can be chalked up to all of us not playing together as a group and not really seeing each other’s skill levels aside from the few windows provided in the raid. For the most part, there wasn’t time to sit around watching how your allies played. Your only gauge of their skill was their success or failure at their assigned tasks and they were difficult enough that even the most experienced among us struggled to perform them correctly. We all learned a lot about each other’s abilities that night, but only in specific areas.

Our communication, though, was amazing. We all fell into our roles naturally, we had clear lines of communication, and we constantly refined our short hand for call-outs, directions, and affirmative responses. There were a few times when the leader had to ask someone to shut up, but it wasn’t ever more than once. Everyone listened patiently, everyone was willing to help out, and everyone had good suggestions for how to make things easier. We may still need to work on our understanding of each other’s over-all abilities and play styles, but we definitely established a rapport with each other that will make future group gaming easier than ever.

Unfortunately, due to our scheduling issues, we won’t be able to repeat the raid more than once a month. In my opinion, that’s plenty. Maybe, once we’ve done it a couple more times, it’ll feel like less of a time-sink to run through it. I know just thinking about it is tiring me out again… It was still a ton of fun, though, and I’m really looking forward to doing it again. I’d love to recapture that feeling of hard-won success when we finally defeated the raid boss.

A Date with Destiny

After several months of delays, flaking, and people doing that thing were they commit to something but understandably have to bail when their mental health, physical health, or life gets in way, I am finally set up to do the raid on Destiny 2. I’ve literally been waiting to do it with this group of people because this group of six is my clan, they’re the people I want to play this game with. I’m not a hardcore gamer, I don’t really care about having a top-tier character or the best loot, and I don’t really enjoy grinding away (repetitively repeating tasks in order to reap the completion rewards as much as possible) in most games, so I was never going to do this with a group of strangers. I like to play video games with my friends, so I’m fine waiting until they’re all ready. Usually. The past 8 months of waiting have been a bit much, though.

It isn’t only Destiny, either. I’m having trouble getting friends together for almost any of the “old” online games. I used to play Overwatch a minimum of twice a week, but now it’s getting rare for me to play it at all during any given week. People have moved on to other games. Heck, I have as well. I spend more time playing Switch games than I do on playing computer games. I had a brief affair with Borderlands 2 again, and I even got to play it with a few of my friends, but that first week of playing it was all we had. We’re back to doing our own things for now.

Most of the time, that’s okay. It’s perfectly natural to go through cycles of spending more time with friends and then less time with friends. The same of true of bigger games without any real end, like Overwatch and Destiny 2. Something will prompt you to return to a game like that and then you’ll play a lot of it until something else captures your attention. If that was all of it, I wouldn’t mind it that much. I’d be quietly waiting for the cycle to come around again with some other game and then I’d dive right back into it with my friends. For the Destiny raid, though, it’s different.

My roommate, the head of our little clan and the center point for the entire group (since I only know half the guys in the group because of him), has been actively trying to organize a raid for months. Our clan has changed members and he’s even gone so far as to get a new person into the game and leveled all the way up JUST so we have a sixth person to do the raid with. And, you know, cause he’s a really nice dude who wants to share his interests with his friends, but also because of the raid thing. He’s found strategy videos for use to watch, shared diagrams and charts on how to navigate the read, done extensive research into the tricks of the raid, helped everyone optimize their characters, come up with a list of the best gear for each class, helped us all get the gear we want to use, and even managed to make the raid sound like a lot of fun despite the amount of work it sounds like from his pile of diagrams, videos, and charts.

And yet here we are, 6 months after the closest we ever came to doing the raid (we had four people online for it and the remaining two flaked last-minute). We’ve got a time set, we’ve got gear picked, we’ve got characters optimized, we’ve got teams picked, and people have actually started watching the guide videos. But only four of us are firm commitments. One has left some wiggle room in his commitment for last minute cancellation and another has committed, but he’ll be coming back from dog-sitting for his girlfriend and, as often happens when people encounter their significant others, he is liable to be distracted. I wouldn’t hold it against either one if they wound up bailing on us in order to go on a date/prepare food for the week or because they wanted to spend some time with their loved one, but I can see my roommate getting more and more frustrated.

Not only have people been flaking out or ignore his attempts to organize raids in the past, but they start asking if we’re ever going to do a raid after all of the dates my roommate set in the survey has passed by with only him and I responding. Neither of us can nag any of the people into responding to the surveys or queries, and no amount of enthusiasm on our parts has been enough to get four other people to commit to a date and time for a raid. It is incredibly frustrating to try to get people organized, have them ignore us, and then have them start complaining that we’ve never done a raid. I can only imagine how much worse it is for my roommate since he actually wants to have a fully optimized character and all the best loot (which is only possible if you grind through the raid at least once a week).

I mean, if I was in his shoes, I’d have lost my temper with this group and just done it on my own, with a bunch of strangers. There’s even a feature in the game for finding a group willing to random players join them for stuff like the raid, so it’d be easy to do, if somewhat time-consuming. He knows I don’t really care and the only other friend who cares would just do it on his own as well, so the only reason he’s still trying to organize us is because we’re his friends and he wants to play with us.

So I’ve cleared my night. I’ve had a couple of quiet conversations about the importance of honoring commitments. I’ve watched the videos and will do so again before the raid. I’ve responded to the messages and reviewed the charts and pictures. I’m ready enough to back up my roommate and be the second leader he’ll need to make sure everyone stays focused, on-task, and working as a team. I’ll be taking an hour or two before our scheduled time to get ready, including making sure my outfit and accessories are appropriate. Honestly, it feels a lot like preparing for a date that’s been a long time coming, minus the emotional turbulence and anxiety since I don’t need to worry about someone liking me.

I don’t think I want to pursue that metaphor too far. I don’t think I’m ready to make any kind of commitment, not while I’m still hung up on Breath of the Wild… And I know Destiny 2 isn’t the kind of game that will settle for an occasional fling. They’d be fun, but we’d both know that I’m mostly wasting both our times if I don’t make a serious commitment. For now, I’m just going to focus on the raid and we’ll see how it goes from there.

This Game Has A Destiny Too Complex To See

One of the games I’ve been playing a lot recently is Destiny 2 on the PC. It isn’t Borderlands, but it is still a shooter with super interesting guns and special powers you can swap around. That’s close enough for me to enjoy, especially since I can easily get all of my friends to show up on an evening to play some Destiny 2 with me and I’ve yet to actually finish the story of a Borderlands game with anyone but my librarian friend. It may not have the same sense of humor, cell-shaded glory, intriguing characters, smooth control scheme, super supportive community, excellent campaign mode…. Okay, maybe the comparison isn’t as great as I’d originally thought.

That isn’t to say Destiny 2 is bad or that I’m not enjoying it. I actually really enjoy Destiny 2, even the online PvP (Player versus Player) modes. I play it all the time by my own choice, even if I never really play it by myself. The campaign doesn’t have as much replayability, but it is also super easy to just power through if you’re interesting in earning the XP for your clan (a loose association of players that can bring you some minor benefits and is basically just a list of people who’ll do the three-player missions with you) or trying to increase your chances of getting a rare gun. It was a lot of fun to play through the first time, even if it wasn’t super compelling. You can definitely tell that the main focus of the game is supposed to be on what happens AFTER you complete the campaign.

There’s already a lot to do after the campaign ends, and there will only ever be more as new content is created and released. There are Strikes, which are three-player missions that have a good chance of dropping good gear, which come in a couple different flavors. Vanilla (normal) strikes are relatively easy and vary widely, but don’t drop very good gear that often. Heroic strikes are more difficult and drop better gear along with having a chance to drop the best gear. Nightfall strikes are even more difficult and have special rules, but also drop better gear in addition to having the best chance of dropping the rarest gear. There’s the Crucible, which is the main PvP mode, and the Trials of the Nine, which is a special format of the PvP mode that gives you really great gear if you manage to win 7 out of 9 matches. There’s also the Leviathan Raid, which is the highest-tier of end-game content, requires six people, and is the best way to get gear. There’s also a number of things that happen on each world, such as public events that anyone can join, small adventures for alright look, and the constant grind of earning tokens you can trade in to each world’s representative for random loot around (but usually below) your level.

All of this content is geared toward players who enjoy making multiple character, doing weekly or daily grind sessions to get the best possible weapons, gear, cosmetic items, and emotes. There’s some room for more casual players since the best way to get gear to do the weekly milestones, which basically just requires that you just play a little of every game mode every week. You can do it in a couple of hours one night a week if you’ve got a decent group of people to play with, though doing the Raid can easily double that. You can just keep playing with the same character the entire time or switch between a few characters to get the weekly rewards all over again as you help the more casual members of your clan earn their weeklies. Personally, I like to play it whenever there’s someone online to play with but I usually stick to one character because I’m not super motivated by the rare weapons. I just like to “Captain America” things as a Titan (you get a shield you can bash people with, block attacks with, or throw at distance enemies to damage and blind them. It’s so much fun to just run around punching the crap out of enemies in a shooter. And, if you get the right gear, it’s a totally viable strategy.

The sheer variety of play style available to the players is where Destiny 2 shines. There are three very different classes with different styles of play and each of those classes can be played in a number of very different ways based on the special properties of your armor. I have arm armor for my Titan that includes the lunge distance of my melee attacks and the damage the attacks do, which stacks with a class ability that does the same thing. If you set it up right and time everything well, you can fly around a battlefield like superman, punch everything to death. Warlocks do incredible amounts of damage in general but are probably also the biggest utility class since you can modify them to increase damage, heal, use more grenades, be super mobile, and so on. Hunters are the high-damage, very mobile sort of class that have the best mobility and the most options when it comes to attacking (In terms of strategy rather than in terms of abilities). Each of these has sub-classes that change their abilities and grenades, and writing about them all would be at least a full post per class.

The biggest problems the game has come in the form of the continued support from the studio, Bungie. There have been a number of uproars in the player community already in regards to some the questionable decisions Bungie has been making, all of which is compounded by the fact that Bungie isn’t very good at communicating with its fan base. There was the XP debacle (XP was being weighed so that super grind-y players didn’t get too many of the loot boxes you get by leveling up or by purchasing from Bungie), the only recently resolved issue involve the DLC (players without the DLC got locked out of almost every post-game activity that was a part of the weekly reward system), and the tumultuous Prometheus Lens arrival and subsequent nerf (PvP used nothing but this gun because it could nearly insta-kill other players and a large segment of people wanted to keep it around. Personally, I hated it since it made every PvP match the same boring grind of who pulls the trigger first). In the last couple weeks, Bungie has really started communicating more clearly and openly about what’s going on, but a lot of players are still left wondering just how all of this stuff made it through testing or why Bungie made some of their clearly dumb decisions they’ve subsequently backtracked on.

I can’t really hold the game accountable for the mistakes of the company that made it, though, so I would definitely recommend getting Destiny 2 (and its DLC because the extra missions they’ve added in Curse of Osiris were a lot of fun).  I’d recommend playing casually or settling yourself in for the cycle of frustration and excitement my roommate seems to go through every week or two, but that’s really up to you. If you’ve got an open evening every week that you’d like to fill and a group of friends you like to game with, I strongly suggest filling it with Destiny 2. You’ll have a lot of fun, if nothing else.